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What does the church in Minneapolis most need to know about God today? It’s been two days since the collapse of the I-35W bridge (August 1, 2007) and countless people are suffering both physically and emotionally in the aftermath of this devastating event. Some lost family members in this tragedy. Others’ lives were spared but they are hospitalized with a variety of injuries. Those not directly involved, but perhaps friends with those who were, are struggling...Read More

One thing that I’ve never heard said is that people profit the most from those who suffer the least. The most profound and lasting encouragement typically emanates from people who’ve experienced the deepest trials and greatest loss. When I’m hurting or wallowing in self-pity, I don’t instinctively turn to those who’ve been insulated from pain or who’ve never tasted the bitter dregs of disappointment and heartache. People who’ve w...Read More

Let me provide a brief sketch of Paul’s experience so that we might have a framework for understanding the profound spiritual lessons that follow. Sometime between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, most likely no earlier than the spring of 55 a.d. and no later than the summer or fall of 56 a.d., Paul had what he considered a singular and altogether unique brush with death that transformed his perspective on life and ministry and, above all, his relat...Read More

If you’ve ever had doubts about the importance and power of prayer, and yes, all of us have, this passage is for you. Paul has just confidently declared that the God who already delivered him from a life-threatening affliction would do so yet again (v. 10). God’s purpose in Paul’s suffering had worked: he no longer looked to himself but now trusted wholly in the “God who raises the dead” (v. 9). I can just hear some conclude from this: &ld...Read More

No one enjoys being misunderstood or having their motives called into question. We can get fairly feisty when others question our integrity in this way, especially if we know in the depths of our heart that we intended only good. We are all by nature defensive, but there are different ways of going about vindicating our reputation or explaining our aim. All too often we react, rather than respond, and do so in anger and bitterness at those who’ve dared to express ...Read More

“For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you” (2 Cor. 1.12). This passage is one more example of those many biblical texts that are typically ignored but carry a powerful word of both rebuke and encouragement to the church. I hardly need remind you of the crisis that exists in pastoral ministry today. Rarely...Read More

There are times when I think the citizens of Corinth have been given a bad rap. I know I’ve been guilty of it. When in need of an example of sin run amok, or immaturity, or theological ignorance, I’ve often pointed at Corinth. Poor chaps. Yet, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that they probably weren’t much different from the rest of us. Yes, I know, there was division in the church there, not to mention immorality, ambition, and spiri...Read More

Theologian Alister McGrath once identified the Holy Spirit as “the Cinderella of the Trinity. The other two sisters,” he said, “may have gone to the theological ball; the Holy Spirit got left behind every time” (Christian Theology, 240). My, my, how times have changed! Contemporary interest in the person and ministry of the Spirit is unparalleled in the history of the church. As a result, passages such as 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 are being given rene...Read More

Do you fight for joy? Do you think of joy as something to be sought as the object of diligent striving and focused labor? Or do you think of it more as an after-effect, a by-product of other and more important pursuits? Or am I splitting hairs, leaving you to wonder, “Sam, what difference does it make?” I think we should let Paul answer that question. As we’ve already noted on several occasions, Paul goes to extraordinary lengths to explain why he chan...Read More

I know this may be a stretch for many of you, but I’d like to ask that you meditate with me today on the subject of church discipline. That’s right, church discipline. The fact that your immediate and instinctive response is probably somewhat (or considerably) negative reflects how far removed we are today from the spirit of the New Testament. As we’ll see, a commitment to discipline in the local church is indicative not only of one’s love for hol...Read More